June 19, 2012

Friends Life t20, Tuesday June 19

Uncomfortably numb Tom Maynard’s tragic death completely overshadowed the day’s t20 action

Uncomfortably numb Tom Maynard’s tragic death completely overshadowed the day’s t20 action. With his panache and range of strokes – the Pietersen-esque flamingo whip to the leg side standing out - Maynard was a player ideally suited to T20 cricket.

Far from offering a form of escapism from the tragedy, both of yesterday’s games were played in a deeply sombre mood, marked by well-observed silences in Maynard’s honour. Sensibly, Surrey have postponed their game with Hampshire on Wednesday as have Glamorgan with their game against Worcestershire. For the other counties, routine – however uncomfortable – must continue, with Warwickshire playing Northants today.

Time Yorkshire made Finals Day?

Along with Derbyshire and Worcestershire, Yorkshire are the only county who have never qualified for a T20 finals day. But it is a statistic that may change this season. Consecutive victories over Leicestershire and Derbyshire have highlighted Yorkshire’s strengths: powerful hitting and varied, wicket-taking bowling. Against Derbyshire it was Gary Balance’s unbeaten 47 that stood out, mixing brute force - he cleared the midwicket boundary three times - and subtler dabs and flicks to lift Yorkshire up to 150.

If they can continue to amass similar totals, quarter-final qualification is highly likely, such is the strength of Yorkshire’s bowling attack: none of their five frontline bowlers conceded six runs an over against Derbyshire. Moin Ashraf’s yorkers and Richard Pyrah’s parsimonious wicket-to-wicket bowling accounted for a combined seven wickets – promising signs considering it is Ryan Sidebottom and Mitchell Starc who are the attack’s real stars.

T20 and the new Michael Vaughans

T20 is not meant to be designed for young cricketers with a penchant for classical orthodoxy. That certainly includes Yorkshire’s Joe Root and Hampshire’s James Vince – both often described as the ‘new Michael Vaughan’.

Yesterday, batting at No. 3, both men contributed innings to show their T20 worth. Vince’s unbeaten 64 for Hampshire was not enough to set-up victory – Paul Stirling’s buccaneering 71 for Middlesex continued the success of Ireland players in the competition – but showed he can score quickly playing in a primarily orthodox manner, with a driven six over extra cover standing out.

Root’s 36 was much slower, coming off 39 balls, but in the context of a slow wicket and the belligerence of other Yorkshire batsmen was no less valuable. As long as he refrains from improvisation such as the attempted ‘Dilscoop’ that led to his rather meek dismissal, Root’s classical excellence will provide crucial solidity to Yorkshire’s batting.

Trending: Andrew Gale

Could Andrew Gale be the new Michael Lumb? As Yorkshire skipper, Gale has always impressed with his cool-headed temperament. In their last two games his contribution has been magnificent, with 70 against Leicestershire followed by 39 against Derbyshire, with his off-side play – especially his rasping cut – a particular strength. At 28, he has the air of a man at utter ease with his game.

Looking to the World T20 in September, England need someone to fulfil a similar role to Lumb in their victory in 2010, who made the quickfire 25 his specialty. With Craig Kieswetter likely to be one opener, a left-hander – like Lumb or Gale – would be especially welcome. If Lumb excels this season he may win a recall, but Gale’s career T20 record (averaging 29) is actually seven runs superior.

Player of the day: David Wainwright Yorkshire may have defeated Derbyshire by 41 runs, but David Wainwright could reflect proudly on his endeavours against his old county, taking 2 for 14 from four overs. The left-arm spinner maintained a consistent line while cleverly varying his flight, pace and – more unusually – his angle, switching seamlessly between over and around the wicket. A highlight was the turn that accounted for David Miller first ball, rewarding the refreshing decision to operate with a slip.

Fixture Warwickshire v Northamptonshire, Edgbaston, 19:00